ANGOLA, Ind.-- The Trine softball team clinched at least a share of the MIAA regular-season title with a sweep of Alma Tuesday afternoon at SportONE/Parkview Softball Field.
The seventh-ranked Thunder got a two-hitter from Justine Robles (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) in a 3-0 victory in game one. The bats exploded in game two, as Trine hit four home runs to run away with a 13-1, five-inning win in game two. Robles' shutout was her seventh of the season- a new team record. Trine has clinched at least a share of the conference regular-season title and can clinch an outright title with one more victory. The Thunder improved to 31-2 overall and 13-1 in conference play. Alma fell to 19-13 overall, 10-4 in MIAA play.
Carly Searles (Levering, Mich./Petoskey) wrapped a streak that saw the senior pick up a hit in 16-consecutive at-bats, the second-longest streak in NCAA history for any division. Searles also picked up her 48th-career triple to move within three of tying the all-time NCAA record. Searles also became the MIAAs all-time leader in hits in conference games.
Game One: Trine 3, Alma 0
An early run held up and the Thunder tacked on two extra runs late as Robles fired the shutout.
Searles extended her streak to 16 hits in 16 at-bats in leading off the game with her 48th-career triple. Kendra Marshall (Leesburg, Ind./Warsaw) knocked in Searles with an RBI-single to make the score 1-0. Marshall extended her hitting-streak to 16 games in the doubleheader.
Robles and Scots' pitcher Morgan Stratton would trade zeroes until Trine broke through for two in the bottom of the sixth. The Thunder scored without the benefit of a hit in the inning.
Stratton surrendered one earned run in six innings of work. She allowed three hits, walked two and struck out three.
Robles held the Scots hitless into the fourth inning. The junior allowed two hits, walked three and struck out 10. She improved to 16-2 on the season and picked her 11th-career shutout, tied for fourth in school-history.
Game Two: Trine 13, Alma 1
The Thunder bats awakened in game two to hit four home runs and Bree Fuller (Hubbardston, Mich./Fulton) kept the Scots' bats in check to earn the victory.
After a Searles leadoff walk, Kaitlyn Clark (Mount Juliet, Tenn./Wilson Central) launched a two-run home run deep to left. The homer pulled Clark into a tie for second on Trine's all-time career list with Sarah Belote (2010-13). The junior has hit 29 career home runs.
Alma scored its run in the second on an RBI-double by Anne Couture.
A leadoff walk followed by a home run got things started in the second, only this time it was Rachell Noble (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central) who deposited the ball over the left field wall. The home run was the fourth of the year for the freshman, who has not struck out in 47-career plate appearances.
Trine took advantage of a couple errors in the fourth, and Leah Hall (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) added a sacrifice fly to make the score 7-1.
Hall provided a big hit in a six-run fifth to help put the game out of reach with a three-run home run. The homer moved the senior into a tie for fourth on Trine's all-time hit list with Kara Graham (2006-09). Hall has 171 career hits.
Fuller worked all five innings, allowing a run on five hits. The senior did not walk a batter and struck out six to improve to 11-0 on the season. Fuller is now 58-5 in her collegiate career.
Trine will conclude the regular-season Saturday, April 25. The Thunder host MIAA-foe St. Mary's at 1 p.m. Trine will honor its senior class and can clinch a fourth-straight, outright MIAA title with a win.